Rob Papen Go2 – Lean Mean Machine
Welcome to StudioWise. We always have a great time reviewing Rob Papen’s synths; Blue 2 is one of our favourites. The latest offering appears on the surface to be a more simplified – dare I say “a learner synth”? But if there’s one thing I know about Rob Papen…expect the unexpected.
I love software synths, but they do demand a lot of my time to learn and create sounds. If there has been criticism with Rob Papen’s synths in the past, it is that they are complicated. I am intrigued with how this new single-oscillator baby synth might stand up to its stablemates.
Will Go2 be my new go-to synth? Let’s dig in and see what it can do.
Go2 is a virtual synthesiser with a simple one-page design aspect. Intended as a fun and more simplistic approach to synthesis, Go2 still features most of the elements of a “serious” instrument.
Included is an interesting dual-waveform single morph oscillator with X/Y pad control. A 16-step sequencer, effect section, 8-slot modulation matrix and all your usual synthesis ADSR, filters and envelop controls.
The whopping 700+ patch preset manager included is focused on modern club banger producers, but a good selection of oddball curiosity sounds should keep the sound designer happy.
Go2 features full NKS support and comes in VST, AU and AAX formats.
I will refrain from detailing every process on this synth; Rob has plenty of tutorial videos going over each of his products. I will, however, try to describe how I found working with Go2 over the last few weeks.
The flat dark grey on green interface is well laid out but feels a little claustrophobic. I wonder if there could be a bit more distinction between the various modules like on the original Predator.
Running through the first set of presets provides a good selection of useful sounds. Typical of Rob Papen’s synths there is a huge collection of well designed presets included. Finding instant gratification is no problem.
The included effect section is also fantastic sounding. There are only five effects included, and just the chorus is an individual device. The flanger/Phaser and delay/reverb are toggled, so you can only have at most three effects running. Maybe because there is less to choose from that the synth sounds so open and transparent. I’m not sure.
The reverb is one of the best I’ve heard on a virtual synth before, and the chorus effect is pretty close too. Both provide me with that wide-eyed wow look when I first tested the synth.
Rob Papen instruments would typically not be the top of my list for a recommendation for a complete novice. Synths like Blue 2, Raw and Predator, are all fantastic sounding but are very sophisticated instruments to master. However, Go2 has many benefits for a beginner. With all the controls visible on the front page it might feel a little overwhelming at first, but confidence will grow as you experiment and tweak settings.
Since no hidden menus or tabbed pages, you can see and hear your results immediately. You will become familiar with the parameters and the effects of tweaking controls, even if you just blunder around blindly. Since the instrument is small and more compact, there is a more significant relationship between everything you see on the interface.
Go2 lacks a significant amount of features found on it’s larger brethren, but this doesn’t mean it is not capable. It takes time to learn the workflow for creating sounds on a complex synthesiser and then putting your knowledge into practice. Go2, with its more straightforward layout, will enable you to get to the desired results faster.
When you don’t know what you want until you hear it, often having less technology in the way speeds up the process of finding exciting sounds.
Making some noise
The workflow is mostly traditional, with only the X/Y pad and arp modules deviating from a standard synth. It is these two features that give Go2 its distinctive sound.
It works by using a morph slider that allows you to create a set point or automated sweep between two wave generators. Hundreds of preset shapes are included, but you can only have two at any stage set. The nifty X/Y control pad allows for further manipulation of the waves using a predefined or custom recorded tracking route.
The X/Y pad is more complicated in description than it is in use. You draw in a path between the defined X and Y points for the automation to follow.
The arp section is an intuitive step-sequencer that features a nifty chord setting allowing any number of patterns to be inserted into the arrangement.
After resetting the synth to it’s Init state, I found it pretty easy to create a usable sound from scratch.
Go2 gravitates heavily towards EDM, pop and club music. The synth is focused more on moving the sound rhythmically than weird and wonderful bleeps and blings you might expect from a modular synth. Though I could manage to create a few interesting synth tones, the real character is found using the automation.
Performance is excellent, hitting around 2-3% per instance on our test machine (comparatively Blue 2 requires roughly 8% per instance).
The only quirk I found is you can’t use your mouse scroll wheel to adjust parameters.
Go2 is not a poor man’s Blue 2 by any means. It is leaner and faster to learn, with some similarities and inspirations for sure. Go2 has more focus on step sequencing and modulation, less on the synthesis making it a perfect instrument for quick inspiration ideas.
Go2 has been a very enjoyable synth to learn. Though it is missing much of the weight and depth of its bigger brethren, I have not noticed any limitations in creativity. Never once was I restricted or felt I needed extra features to get the tone I wanted.
I still can’t get over the price: this is a $49 synth. There are some big-ticket synth features included with its excellent effects section, X/Y pad controls, modulation matrix and the excellent arpeggiator.
A simple core synth with complex rhythm and modulation section. Excellent selection of presets makes this a perfect choice for both novices and seasoned vets. Creating a great sound is fast with more focus on animating sound rather than designing raw synthesis.